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Kid-friendly London activities?

We are traveling to London as a family, but coming in at different times. Two children and myself are arriving on the 16th of December (due to frequent flier miles deal) and my husband and older daughter are arriving on the 19th (she couldn't miss exams). So we will be on our own for a few days. I want to save the big sights like the Tower of London for when we are all together. What are some things we could do that my two could enjoy? Are there any children's museums that are worth the visit? I am open to day trips outside of London as well (I'd been thinking about Bath). My daughter will be newly 12, and my son is 7.

Posted by
2246 posts

Take the water taxi (I forget what they call em in London) out the Thames to Greenwich to see the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, and some other great stuff. Depending on the seven year old, I would think the London Eye would be fascinating, though maybe too long time-wise.

Posted by
4671 posts

There's the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green which is an outpost of London's main Victoria and Albert arts and crafts museum. Another possibility is Pollock's Toy Museum.

Posted by
862 posts

Here is what my kids have like during Dec in London:

  • Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
  • Boat ride from Westminster to Greenwich
  • London Eye
  • Hamleys (Toy store)
  • Museums: British, V&A, Natural History, Science
  • Tower of London

DJ

Edit: the Diana playground in Hyde Park is great for kids (NW corner of the park) but unless the weather is spectacular in Dec I wouldn't go there.

Posted by
338 posts

I took my kids to London a couple of years ago. They were ages 5 and 7 at the time, so these ideas are perhaps geared more towards your son. Anyway, here are some things they liked - omitting the big sites:

  1. London Transportation Museum - This has lots of old buses, subways, etc. to play on. It is at Covent Garden which has lots of interesting street performers to watch. There are also theaters nearby - we saw the Lion King and loved it.

  2. Windsor Castle - This is an easy day trip to an interesting castle. One other day trip option is Hampton Court. I haven't been, but I've heard very good things.

  3. Diana Playground (Hyde Park)

  4. V&A, Natural History and Science Museums - all free and right next to each other in South Kensington. The Natural History museum has dinosaurs. The Science Museum has lots of hands on exhibits and a great staff. The V&A has a random mix of interesting things and interactive kiosks that my girls liked.

  5. Royal Mews - some horses and lots of carriages. The changing of the horse guards near St. James is also interesting, especially if your kids like horses.

  6. Churchill War Rooms - a surprise hit with my kids. They liked the kid-specific audio tour, especially in the Churchill Museum portion.

  7. St. Martins - near Trafalgar Square. A unique place to have an adequate lunch (in the crypts). You can make rubbings, so your kids can create a self-made souvenir.

  8. High Tea - we went to the Orangery, but there are lots of options around town.

I'm assuming that you're seeing the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, the British Museum, etc. with your entire group.

Good luck and have fun with whatever you decide!

Posted by
5762 posts

Mudchute Farm http://www.mudchute.org. Natural History Museum (who doesn't like dinosaur bones?) Ice skating rinks, (there's usually one outside the Natural History Museum) visit Harrod's food halls, try to get tickets to a Pantomime (http://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/christmas-pantomimes-in-london), Ride bikes in Hyde Park. Feed the waterfowl at the Round Pound in Kensington Gardens. See if Tower Bridge is scheduled to open for a passing ship. http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/lift-times/ or if not afraid of heights enjoy the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Enjoy.

Posted by
77 posts

Ooh good ideas!
What about the London Zoo? Is that a good thing to visit in December (may seem a silly question, but I am from Florida so we have a different idea of winter!)?